Weather as Medium
Toward a Meteorological Art
274 pp., 7 x 9 in, 50 b&w illus., 18 color plates
- Published: October 30, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: October 5, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An exploration of artworks that use weather or atmosphere as the primary medium, creating new coalitions of collective engagement with the climate crisis.
In a time of climate crisis, a growing number of artists use weather or atmosphere as an artistic medium, collaborating with scientists, local communities, and climate activists. Their work mediates scientific modes of knowing and experiential knowledge of weather, probing collective anxieties and raising urgent ecological questions, oscillating between the “big picture systems view” and a ground-based perspective. In this book, Janine Randerson explores a series of meteorological art projects from the 1960s to the present that draw on sources ranging from dynamic, technological, and physical systems to indigenous cosmology.
Randerson finds a precursor to today's meteorological art in 1960s artworks that were weather-driven and infused with the new sciences of chaos and indeterminacy, and she examines work from this period by artists including Hans Haacke, Fujiko Nakaya, and Aotearoa-New Zealand kinetic sculptor Len Lye. She looks at live experiences of weather in art, in particular Fluxus performance and contemporary art that makes use of meteorological data streams and software. She describes the use of meteorological instruments, including remote satellite sensors, to create affective atmospheres; online projects and participatory performances that create a new form of “social meteorology”; works that respond directly to climate change, many from the Global South; artist-activists who engage with the earth's diminishing cryosphere; and a speculative art in the form of quasi-scientific experiments. Art's current eddies of activity around the weather, Randerson writes, perturb the scientific hold on facts and offer questions of value in their place.
“Janine Randerson's Weather as Medium inventively maps out the newly forming field of meteorological art. Working across contemporary art, environmental science, indigenous theory, and activism, this study compellingly demonstrates how weather has become a multiform aesthetic medium for capturing our present atmospheres and future climates."
Jennifer Gabrys, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, author of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet
“Paint, ink, stone, and photographic emulsions are familiar artistic media. In Weather as Medium, Janine Randerson shows us that all things familiar and unfamiliar—bodies, machines, electrons, pollution—are the new media of a new efflorescence of evocative, kinetic, and performative meteorological art. It's your atmosphere, and the new media artists play vital roles in recalibrating our relations with it.”
James Rodger Fleming, Dana Professor of Science, Technology, and Society, Colby College
“Addressing the entrance of weather as media into art, Randerson provides a compelling account of the historical and contemporary diversity of creative practices that negotiate between global meteorological systems and ground-truth perspectives in a world of changing climates, when weather matters like never before.”
T. J. Demos, Professor of Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz, and author of Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology, and Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today
“Amid increasing evidence of climate change, Janine Randerson's Weather as Medium offers a timely catalogue of the varied ways that artists have addressed and interpreted meteorological effects. From artworks that focus on the subtle motion and feel of wind, to the evanescent drama of lightning, to the calamitous break-up of icebergs, Randerson shows how meteorological art translates the abstractions of vast data sets and 'complex systems' science, reconnects it to our immediate sensorial and spiritual experiences of weather, and creates an alternative framework for critically articulating the anxieties of climate change. By considering the works of indigenous art practitioners alongside those of Western artists, Randerson draws a dynamic map of the vortices within this field of artistic exploration.”
Janet Abrams, artist and coeditor of Else/Where: New Cartographies of Networks and Territories